Star Fever

17:05 30.09.2010 • Armen Oganesyan , Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs

I'm not talking about Luzhkov, I'm on about the stars in the Kremlin and the Kremlin itself.

80 years ago, on October 1st, 1930, the Chudov monastery inside the Kremlin was blown up, the beauty and grandeur of which were not inferior to other monasteries, and which bore the name of the Great Monastery in the heart of Moscow. It was founded by Metropolitan Alexius, who not only blessed and spiritually inspired  Dmitry Donskoy, but all the scattered people of Rus to fight against the Mongol yoke ... the Chudov Monastery was a prison for Patriarch Hermogenes - another mastermind of the people, but against the Polish invaders.

The harbinger at the Kremlin which lasted more than a decade was an event of mayhem which in those days was known to a very narrow circle of persons. On October 21st, 1918, two drunken soldiers tried to desecrate the relics of the Holy Hermogenes in the Assumption Cathedral. "This is the beginning of the horror and sacrilege that lie ahead," prophetically said one of the participants of the All-Russian Church Council, which at the time had been choosing the Patriarch of the Kremlin.

The subsequent destruction of the Kremlin revealed how appalling human depths can reach. "In firing off deathly weapons all over the Kremlin, the madmen, possibly, had decided in advance not to spare any of the Kremlin's temples, and indeed, the traces of the crime remained at the Kremlin’s shrines ... all the walls in the Kremlin at the entrance to the temples were inscribed with the most filthy and blasphemous inscriptions and cursing in Russian and German languages, and at the entrance to one temple, where there had been a shrine they made a toilet. Note that this was not in the street, but at the top, in the bell tower of the Cathedral of Ivan the Great. "

These pictures unexpectedly appeared before our eyes during a televised debate on "whether or not to replace the Kremlin ruby star with the double-headed eagle." The whole controversy was fierce, causing people to argue amongst themselves, and revolving around political symbolism, it became very political in nature: red against white, white against red. The essence of the matter is that without the destruction of the Chudov and Ascension monasteries, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael and many other shrines, the ruby star could not appear on the towers of the Kremlin. It was impossible for the fighters against the "opium for the people" to decide to set the star on the top of St. Basil's Cathedral, without first destroying its wonderful dome.

To do that they  needed to limit, compress, and surround with emptiness to the size of the entire Cathedral  Square and historic Kremlin, to destroy a large part of it, and defile it, and as a symbol of victory to shoot up the blood-ruby star over the Kremlin.

The protagenists, who came together in a political clinch, striking at each other blindly, still did not realize that this is not about white and red, not about "stars and eagles", but about good and evil, which, being ugly inside, always feels "tormented by beauty.»

About those days, in the wake of events, Mikhail Prishvin remarkably wrote in his diary, "What then shall we say is our biggest problem? Of course, in the desecration of holy sites of the people, it does not matter that the bullet made a hole in the Cathedral of the Assumption – it is easily repaired. The trouble is in the spirit that fired the gun at the Assumption Cathedral. Once he has encroached on it, it no longer costs anything to infringe on human life. "

As if to transform this inevitable connection between the destruction of the temple and the shedding of human blood, a witness has left us with a picture, as he set eyes upon Cathedral Square. "Death is not discriminating of holy places and left its trail of blood ... By the Archangel and Annunciation cathedrals huge pools of blood could be seen." No less scary was the fact that the Moscow people did not stand up to defend their own shrines nor nationwide.

 "You huge city, you did not support,

A valiant handful of cadets

From your locked houses,

Behind heavy curtains in the windows -

You just waited for the outcome of the struggle

And turned to stone in a sweat of fear... "

The savagery of the people grew rapidly, and the mutual destruction did not look like a class struggle. The armed groups opened fire on one command: "There are people coming, go shoot them!"

In the dusk of Moscow, this picture must have looked mystically scary, like a war of "non-humans", reduced to settling scores with humans. The "Demons" of Dostoevsky compare with the rampant devilry in Moscow, the apotheosis of which made the shooting at the Kremlin seem almost "harmless." "Every single passerby ignited gun fire from the attics,” wrote Metropolitan Nestor of Kamchatka. “Here, on the streets, among the dead and wounded, I found students, teenagers, women, soldiers, and even an injured Sister of Mercy."

“Here was a tragic episode in the background of the shooting at the Kremlin, which began in the darkness with the Tsar Cannon and disfigured the Chudov Monastery with heavy shelling."Here I saw a Colonel, who was unknown to me, fighting of off an angry mob of vicious soldiers crowded around him. The soldiers pushed him and beat him with rifle butts and stabbed him with bayonets. The Colonel clutched at the bayonets with his bloodied hands, his hands were pierced inflicting deep wounds. He tried to yell something, but no one was listening, they only shouted out to shoot him immediately. An officer tried to stand up for the victim, trying to protect him with his body, also shouting something. I ran up to the mob and begged them to spare the life of colonel. I made them swear in the name of God, their own mother, and for the sake of small children - in short, by words, all possible efforts to persuade them to spare his life, but the mad crowd were already possessed by satanic evil, They responded by threatening to shoot me immediately, and swore at me, called me bourgeois, bloodsucker, and so on. At that moment some scum soldier threw the unfortunate wretch of a martyr to the side, shots were fired, and then it was all over. The officer, who defended the colonel, threw away his rifle, went to the ruined wall and fell into a pile of bricks. "

Not for the desire to get "above the fray", but for the sake of historical truth we should recognize that, in the ensuing struggle the White Terror was no better than the Red. Only political fighters find this argument easier in allegedly equalizing their chances in the feverish debate.

The shooting at the Kremlin was a trouble shared. Michael Prishvin was right: it was not the Kremlin that was shot, it was our souls that were shot. Those wounds are erased and forgotten – but our wounds are unrepented and unhealed.

Otherwise, our inner sense of self, our self repentance will prompt us on how to deal with the stars and eagles...

Seeing the picture of the Kremlin after the massacre, in the autumn of 1918, Bishop Nestor wrote in hope: "The mutilated face of our Blessed Lady looks upon what the hands of men can do, and I believe that no one villain would dare come closer to this icon."

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